Think in Streams, not in Silos

As I go about consulting and training with clients, I often hear the (usually) rather tired and frustrated words “we work in silos”. Even though splitting a company into divisions allows expertise in different areas, operating in silos usually explain why parts of the business are not communicating effectively, or don’t work together.


Language matters

Language has always interested me – the way it can affect how you think and feel about things, the way it can persuade or dissuade. A quick scan of Wikipedia shows that Silos are designed to keep things in … and out. Silos isolate.* As a result a Silo mentality promotes inward looking behaviour and can potentially lead to individuals resisting the sharing of information and resources with other departments. So why do we use Silos in a business context?

Surely the art of developing a strong, customer-centric business is to pull the resources of the company together for the greater good of the customer base. Have everyone work together, towards a common goal.

How to break down silo mentality

At durhamlane we take pride in our ability to help people and organisations think differently. Language plays a key role in re-shaping organisations and helping people to think in a different way. For example, rather than refer to silos, think in streams instead. Why? Well, streams merge, flow and ebb depending on external factors, become stronger. Streams find the most effective way to progress towards their ultimate goal.

It is these small changes that can start to turn people and teams around. I have had the pleasure of seeing many companies improve their businesses. Of course there are always many facets to any change programme, however, everyone can start with their own language. Think positive, be positive. Write ‘will’ rather than ‘would’. Say ‘can’ rather than ‘could’. Tiny variances that when brought together can make a big difference.

When you start thinking about your business services, teams and projects as streams rather than silos you will open up collaboration and give yourselves the best chance of making 1+1 equal 3.


We help teams to shift their mindsets and working together towards high performance. Learn more about the durhamlane Leadership Programme


*From Wikipedia: A silo (from the Greek σιρός – siros, "pit for holding grain") is a structure for storing bulk materials. Silos are used in agriculture to store grain or fermented feed known as silage.